The Joy of College: My Son Loves it — Why Didn’t I Have This Good a Time in College? - Higher Education
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The Joy of College: My Son Loves it — Why Didn’t I Have This Good a Time in College?


It’s been just two weeks, but already, my son is enjoying his new life away from his parents, totally involved in college life.

I’ve written about Dash in this space before as the kid who beat dyslexia and earned a spot at UC Berkeley. I had all the faith in his ability to succeed, but I just wasn’t sure how he’d take to the bigness of Cal and the newness of life without his family. I presume it’s the fear of any parent who is letting their 18-year-old free to be the freshman they ought to be.

And my son? He loves it.

While I constantly ask my wife if Dash has texted, or called, or e-mailed, or maybe put something on Facebook about us, my son has done none of those things. He knows we will just happen to be in the area to communicate with him or to bring him anything he needs. Parents are very creative with excuses. When we see him, he’s positively overflowing with praise for college in general, and Cal, specifically.

He loves it all—his classes, all his new friends, the good roommate, the coed dorm floor. He loves the ad hoc Panini parties he and his roommate throw because someone brought a Panini maker to school. He enjoys hearing groups like Fun for cheap since his dorm is just up the hill from the Greek Theatre. He loves the old movies at the Pacific Film Archive and the wrap joint that puts Indian food in tortilla.

I had been concerned the family’s solid anti-math biases would show up in his choice of classes. But, there’s no shortage of STEM-y type course work in Dash’s schedule. He’s doing Astronomy and Calculus. He’s also studying Chaucer and a new computer language. Talk about a 21st Century hybrid. An English and Computer Science major?

Frankly, I had suggested the Asian American Studies department within the world-class Ethnic Studies unit. But, there was no time this semester. “Maybe in the spring, Dad,” my son said.

Still computers and English make sense. Most of the next 20 years will be about translating the real world into the digital world. I’m glad he won’t be left out of anything there. In fact, he and some buddies are already trying to write the Great American Software program.

“You see, Dad,” he tells me, “all that time playing video games wasn’t a waste.”

I’d say that debate is still open. But I’m hopeful.

As for the rest of his life, even the bad things aren’t so bad. The high school girl friend issue must still be navigated. And the Cal football team lost a close one to Northwestern, but failed to wallop Portland State in a designated laugher. Next week is Ohio State. Oh-oh.

All in all, none of what he is experiencing is like my experience—the trauma of a west coast kid going east to attend an Ivy League school.

I want to explore more of that in a future post. Mostly, because it may somewhat alter my ideas on affirmative action. Exactly how, I’m still contemplating, but I’m genuinely impressed by the sheer joy my son is experiencing in college.

That was something definitely foreign in my day.

Emil Guillermo is an award-winning journalist who writes for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund ( Like him on Facebook at Emil Guillermo Media.

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